Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer's Day Hath All Too Short a Lease

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Ah, August. Summer's peak, the year's crown, the first harvest and the last berry. August manages to combine the laziest, most lingering days of the year with the half-panicked realization that summer is almost over! And there's so much I haven't done yet! Taking my own family inventory, I realize in eight weeks, we still haven't hosted one of our traditional floats down the Saco: a flotilla of friends on inflatable tubes drift a mile down the river, then we all hike home to BBQ and sweet corn on the cob. We haven't spent the day at one of Maine's beautiful sandy beaches, despite daily dropping the Smithie off at her job at Old Orchard, home of the most famous beach and boardwalk in the state. We haven't seen a single offering at any of the summer theaters or Shakespeare festivals for which Maine is known. We haven't even taken the ferry out to Peak's Island for sunset cocktails at the Harborview! Argh!

Fortunately, there's still time to relish summer. I can still squeeze in Love's Labour's Lost, performed by the Fenix Theatre Company al fresco in the natural ampitheatre of Deering Oaks Park. I can pack up my sun umbrella, a cooler and as many kids and their friends as will fit in the wagon and make a day of it at Willard Beach. I'm going pull our rubber raft out of the barn and email my friends today with an invitation. (Better stock up on charcoal and burgers while I'm at it.)

How about you, Reds? What haven't you gotten around to doing this summer? What are you going to try to fit in before the back-to-school sales start?

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: Nope. Nope. Nope. The dahlias are blooming, the crickets have started, and fall clothes are in the stores. I refuse. I'm not going gentle into that good autumn.

I haven't made pesto. Gosh, our basil is just getting good! Sometimes (this is secret) Jonathan and I turn the TV to face out the sunroom window to the patio, and watch baseball sitting outside. (Almost as good as being at Fenway, and shorter lines to the bathroom.) We haven't done that this summer. YET!

We DID go to Tanglewood, twice, and that was as always, lovely. We still have to make Palmyras. And we still have to float on the pool, on our Gumby-looking flaots, with iced lemonade and books. (Jonathan has done that, I fear, but I've been dutifully working. I DID finish my revisions! So I'm happy.)

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Anyone who is lamenting the last days of summer does not live in TEXAS!!!! We are on our forty-something day of 100 plus temps. It's too hot to cook, too hot to even think about doing anything in the garden other than keeping the bare minimum of plants alive. Too hot to clean house. Too hot to have new and old neighbors over for that barbecue we were planning. My bike, which is parked in the sunporch, has ivy growing down over it.

Too hot to sleep.

Basil? Ha. Dead. Our water tastes--and smells--like pond sludge. It is, in fact, pond sludge, as our water supply is all reservoir based and the lake levels are dropping drastically.

Meanwhile, I'm drooling over the fall clothes and boots in the catalogs and dreaming of crisp days and wood fires. Autumn can't come soon enough.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: I haven't taken tennis lessons! This year I swore I was going to at the nice empty courts just a mile away from home. I bought the shoes and they're still in the box. I haven't been to the beach. The pool and garden are so lovely, my husband and I just look at each other and think - nah, let's just stay here! We have gone kayaking a number of times (just to let you know that we're not total slugs.) I've finally convinced him that my way of putting the kayak on top of the car is the right way and there's less of a chance that we'll have an - uh, extended conversation about the noise, the straps and the possibility of it sailing through a red light without us.

I have not solved the debt problem.

HALLIE EPHRON: Oh, Debs, I've been watching the weather in Dallas and feeling awful for you and all my friends sweating it out. We complain here in New England when we get 2 days in a row over 90. So I won't say the monsoons that blew through last night and now it's nudging 70 with what feels like 100% humidity.

I haven't yet gone to a farmer's market. ACK! However I have been shopping the summer clothing sales so that next year I'll have at least a few nice tops that aren't stained with melted butter from all the wonderful corn we've been eating. I have made great blueberry pie. Twice. And had steamers and lobster rolls and onion rings at Tony's Clam Shop on Wollaston Beach, the undisputed best place in Boston for that and a walk along the beach after to watch the sun set.

JAN BROGAN - I think it would be thoroughly obnoxious to lament the fact that I haven't gotten to Martha's Vineyard yet when I've just returned from the south of France. So no lamenting from me. This is has been a dream-come-true summer and I will eventually get to the beach and if the heat of summer is gone by then -- as it often departs early in New England -(not trying to rub it in Debs) I will suffer through walks on the beach instead of swims. But I really do look forward to those long MV bike rides and beach walks and a Menemsha sunset shared with my husband and kids.

RHYS BOWEN: Every summer it's the same. I plan to take a picnic and a book to a secluded spot and do nothing. I plan to do outdoor sketching and painting. And suddenly what do you know? Summer is over and I've done none of the above. Well, this year I improved a little, because I took a plein aire painting class. And I have a treat to look forward to--two weeks in Hawaii at a friend's condo. Yipee!

DEBS: Rhys, can you pack me in your suitcase?

JULIA: Let's all go! What about you, readers? Anything you're trying to fit in to the last glorious days of summer? Or, like our resident Texan, are you already yearning for the fall?


  1. Today accomplishes two of summer's most important events: I am heading out to pick several gallons of blueberries in an hour - can't get through a winter without bags of the little gems in the freezer. Then later we'll head to the beach with our favorite 2- and 5-year olds and stay until sunset.

    Haven't done Shakespeare outside yet. Can I join you in Maine, Julia? And the pesto - thanks for the reminder, Hank!


  2. I'm a fan of winter but I do like the fruit. I can practically live on white cherries. And I enjoy reading what some of my favorite writers have to say about just about anything.

  3. I've done a bunch of summer things this year: been to the beach, swam in the ocean, tended a (now riotous) garden, made it to the Portland Farmer's Market most every week to buy what we don't grow or don't grow well. Oh, and eaten blueberries until my tongue is purple.

    Still on my to do list: make pesto, put up some of our tomato boodle, more beach reading (a visit to Grand Manan is coming up in a couple of weeks) and lying in the hammock at night with my honey to watch for shooting stars.


  4. School started this week here in Phoenix! But we face a few more weeks of 100+ weather. I'm planning our Labor Day cookout - haven't made potato salad all summer.

  5. Hubby and I were just lementing that we hadn't spent as much time at the dock as we'd like this summer. It's been hot in Jersey this year(not as bad as Texas, but still hot for us). I made the pesto (25 meals in freezer), did the tomatoes as well as made 10 quarts of gazpacho (had to call the kids to come over and eat some of it).

    I'm nevre ready to give up summer. I still need to freeze more blueberries, and more cherries, if it not too late. All and all it's been a good summer so far.

  6. Like Deborah, I'm a resident Texan and I can't wait for fall and a break from this. Blessedly welcome rain last night and today lowered the temperature--high in the upper 90s--but it settles over you like a wet blanket when you go outside. And it's been so long since rain, I'd forgotten the problems of mud and dogs--plus a soggy newspaper. Give me crisp, clean fall--quick!

  7. I am ready for fall !! Been a long hot summer, most of the fruits/vegs are dried up for lack of rain and too much heat except Tomatoes - everyone has an abundence of those

    Did make it to NY to my sMoms cottage for a week, got to spend 2 Sundays with her which was great, it was strange being there without my Daddy though - something I've put off doing because I knew his ghost would be in the cottage - did fine and enjoyed picturing him here and there in the cottage.

    Rest of summer has been spent indoors a/c going

    Fall cannot come soon enough, I want to dig out my sweaters and sweatshirts and see the glorious fall leaves

    Rhys - very nice painting !! Wherever you were, I want to be there, what a breathtaking site !!

    Read a lot of great books, but I do that year round

    Only thing I didn't get done was to see friends who live a very long ways away.

    summing it up BRING ON FALL !


    PS JRW's I love your site and books - thanks Deb for the link to JRW

  8. You're so brilliant, Julia! How did you find a photo of the EXACT gumby floats?


  9. Thanks, Mar! Lovely to see you here...and you story about the cottage is heartwarming. Good for you. xo

  10. I have to tell you, Hank, I Image Googled "Gumby floats" for a good twenty minutes trying to find a more, shall we say, accurate picture. You see some VERY strange things out there when you're looking for "Gumby floats

    I figured you would consider the elegant float in the infinity pool the next best thing :-)

  11. Oh, I thought Jonathan had sent you that photo of me in our back yard... :-)

    But that is exactly what the floats look like, at least. Yay, Red Julia!